Theo Kalogeracos, the master pizza chef, has a new pizza store in East Vic Park, just opposite The Heart of The Park Shopping Center. The space is casual, the service friendly, and the pizzas are anything but ordinary. Dine in or takeaway, BYO, wait to be seated and then be confused as to what pizza to choose from the extensive menu. I was really keen on trying the skillet pizzas and opted for the pepperoni version. This deep dish beautie was amazing! Not at all soggy, soft fluffy base packed with Mozzarella cheese and delicious pepperoni. Yum yum yum! I also opted for one of their best sellers (which there are many) – Pork Belly on a pizza? Crazy, no genius! Marinated with deliciousness, fennel, garlic, and the creamy dijonaise is a masterstroke. Full of flavour and so enjoyable. Some bits have a slight crunch from the crackling. They have boxes where the cutlery and serviettes are to take the leftovers away which means room for dessert. I’ve eaten several dessert pizzas from different restaurants which have generally been poor. Here, there’s several to choose from and the Built From Bones looked appealing. A deconstructed cannoli – ricotta base with chocolatey drops and broken cannoli shells for crunch, it’s unusual, different but an excellent dessert pizza nonetheless. Really full but very satisfied. The pizzas here are a very different style but are inventive, creative, and the flavour combinations are on the money.
For my second night in Melbourne, one of my ex-colleagues recommended a visit to Lucy Liu’s which is an Asian fusion type restaurant. Located down Oliver Lane, the place is packed but I manage to score a table and are seated at one of the high benches overlooking the restaurant. There are hooks underneath the bench, perfect for hanging my bags after a day of shopping. The interior is very chic, covered in criss cross wood formations, yet there is plenty of buzz and is another venue with lots of atmosphere. Turn over the placemat to reveal the menu, there’s plenty to choose from and I seek the guidance of the waitstaff.
I start with a fresh betel leaf. Yummy and hands on way to roll up the betel leaf and consume the lovely tuna and roe. It’s light and refreshing and the perfect start to the meal. I’m a real fan of bao so the crispy pork bun was an easy choice. The soft bun encases crispy pork and contains a lovely sauce to amplify the flavour. The crunch of the pork is distinctive, although a little chewy at times, contrasting against the soft bao which melts in your mouth. Enhanced with some lovely Asian ingredients and the kewpie mayo, each bite is delicious.
For something more substantial, I opted for the wok tossed king prawns and mussels. I didn’t expect to get such a large hearty bowl though. t love the delicious flavoursome XO influenced broth, the succulent mussels, juicy prawns, crispy prawn heads, and the minced beef. The Chinese doughnuts are a distinctive food item throughout many parts of Asia and are perfect for sopping up broth as is the case here. Once soaked, the doughnut takes on the flavour of the broth which is simply yum. So full, I continue walking around Melbourne to walk off my full belly.
One of my ex-work colleagues told me about this place so upon landing, my first point of call is a visit to George Calombaris’s Gazi Restaurant. Seated at the bar overlooking the kitchen, it was interesting watching the kitchen in operation. There are hooks underneath the bench to hang your jacket or bags which is perfect as it’s a bit cold outside but the heat of the kitchen warms everyone up. The atmosphere is buzzing, plenty of people crammed in but with sufficient space to enjoy conversation and waitstaff rush around to cater for the hungry hords. Despite that, there is no compromise on the excellent service provided throughout the night. There’s plenty of choice from the menu which makes it hard to decide. I asked the waitstaff for some recommendations and chose a number of dishes, though, with the rotisserie in front of me, I rather fancied some dish that incorporated some of those delicious meats. I heard there is the option for takeaway but I’m here in Melbourne for the weekend.
I started with the miso eggplant dip which presents super smooth eggplant dip evoking a strong but well controlled eggplant flavour that is just delightful. Dipping the warm soft puffy Pita into the dip is a delicious and an enjoyable experience.
Next I went with the saganaki cheese – I love cheese so was interested to see what this dish would serve up. Melted cheese on a sizzling hot plate with a golden brown crust and a cumquat citrus sauce. The citrus seems unusual at first, a sweet sensation but it balances against the richness of the cheese, particularly the slight touch of acidity. Yum!!!
I had to grab a mini souvlaki, or souvalkia and opted for the duck version. There’s lots of succulent juicy duck with an Asian inspired fusion. The duck is delicious, though a tad oversalted. Nonetheless, I really enjoyed the dish, the soft Pita and the ingredients it held. I think the Hoison is overshadowed by the mayo to an extent.
Finally, I had to squeeze in dessert and chose loukoumades, Greek doughnuts. Oh wow! What a finish to the meal. Crunchy on the outside, soft and spongy on the inside. Drizzled with honey for sweetness with a touch of nutella to add a chocolate hint, these are to be savoured. I also like the strong Greek coffee flavoured ice cream. Wouldn’t mind more of that. Really full, glad to have some variety and really enjoyed the flavours and experience of this venue. So typically Melbourne, nothing that Perth offers comes close.
I’d heard from people Copper Chimney was an excellent Indian restaurant so I finally made a visit. It’s a casual open space tastefully decorated to reflect the Indian culture. There’s heaps of choice on the menu, including the specials, so you’re spoilt for choice. We got a mixed platter to start which proved to be quite filling but offering lots of variety and tasty treats. The tandoor imparted flavour is evident in the tandoori chicken and bharah kebab. The samosa is delicious, as too, the paneer and mint chutney to pour over the salad. They also offer 3 thalis, we got the meat version and I had a taste of some of the items which were pretty good. We shared other dishes like the masala dosa, a huge thin crispy pancake encasing a delicious spiced potato mix. Plenty of extra dosa to dip into the tasty curries and condiments. We also got the kangaroo vindaloo which packed some bite, was reasonably tender and the curry flavour hid the gaminess to quite an extent. Certainly not chilli hot but the heat built and was hot but bearable. Pretty stuffed with all the food, we shared a dessert. I had a small taste of the pistachio kulfi, the Indian ice cream was tasty. I also popped across the road to grab some cannoli at Patisserie La Vaspa, given my sweet tooth, and enjoyed this as a very late afternoon snack. I also got some biriyani to takeaway and ate that for lunch the following day. Flavoursome and packed full of chunks of goat. The service, flavours, venue, and menu choice is excellent and certainly a solid choice for Indian fare if you live around Freo.
I’d heard about this place, in particular, the fried chicken. With staff ties to The Old Crow, I was keen to see what interesting fare would be served up. I’m really glad the sun has emerged and the light is longer. This makes it perfect for going to dinner and grabbing a table outside. I chose one of the starters – smoked brisket chimichangas and salsa. What a delicious dish! Crunch from the crispy tortilla, tasty beef brisket, lovely salsa, but that refried bean paste, what flavour! There’s also a slight acidity from a squeeze of lime juice which ties everything together. So delicious. For my mains it’s hard to go past their specialty – fried chicken. Available in southern, medium or hot, I chose the southern. The chicken is available as a quarter ($15) or a half ($30), I chose the quarter. OMG! Wow! So delicious. Ultra crunchy batter with a most delicious southern style spice mix encasing succulent chicken served atop a slice of bread. I love the spicy kimchi sauce and blue cheese sauce. The pickles cut through the deep fried chicken and the bread soaks up more of that spice. You need to dive in with hands and clean that chicken off the bone. Finger lickin good!
Mashawi offers a range of dishes representing Moroccan and Middle Eastern cuisine. With an inviting atmosphere, friendly service and delicious, flavoursome, well balanced cuisine, I really enjoyed my experience here. The mixed tapas presents a range of items to share. I liked the filo encased cheese and spinach cigars, the fried kibbeh is tasty and well balanced, not too salty, I loved the falafel which is spiced but subtle and not too intense with a lovely crunch, and the sambousek is kind of like a curry puff with a delicious filling. All enjoyed with some tasty dips. For mains, I really enjoyed the chicken, olive and potato tagine as well as the seafood tagine. Generous serving, tasty, flavoursome and moist tender proteins cooked perfectly served with loose moorish cous cous. I also liked the mixed grill which presented a range of skewered meats perfectly cooked, moist, tender and flavoursome with a delicious rice pilaf and refreshing salad. The sausages were also interesting and unique. I couldn’t help myself in obtaining a selection of baked sweets on the way out and really enjoyed them, particularly, the baklava.
Had lunch across the road at Society Bar & Kitchen, inside the Mantra on Murray Hotel. They have a standard menu but also offer an express lunch option of 2 courses for $19, with lots to choose from under each course. I chose the confit duck in brik pastry for entree and the cajun shrimp tortilla for mains. I really loved the confit duck which was absolutely amazing! Such delicious succulent tender and well flavour duck encased by a delicious crunchy pastry. I relished each bite. We were told the tortilla is filling and it certainly was a generous serve. I like the light crunch from the tortilla and pretty tasty filling. I didn’t care too much for the shrimp though. The tortilla wasn’t too bad but no match for the duck. Several people at the table chose the steak sandwich and by all reports it was really tasty and enjoyed by all. If you’re after a quick and relatively cheap meal which is still tasty, has good service, and is quiet and relaxing, stopping by here isn’t a bad choice.
Great to see an American style pizza joint open up on the popular Beaufort Street strip of eateries. They serve a range of 16″ and 22″ pizzas and also offer the option of half n half which I gladly took up. I placed a takeaway order and picked up a 16″ Big Tony’s Pepperoni pizza on one half and Buffalo Chicken on the other half. I also got a serve of the New York style cheesecake. The pizza is large and a few legs bolted on to the huge pizza box, and I’d have a mini table! Granted it was takeaway and not eaten at it’s optimum, I thought the pepperoni pizza fell a bit short. The pizza has a lovely thin base that holds it’s shape (it’s not floppy) and has a crunchy crust. The pepperoni is tasty with a lovely sprinkling of herbs to add additional flavour, though I found it a bit flat. If cheese is overcooked it becomes chewy and not the kind of chewy with stringy gooey mozzarella. On the other hand, the buffalo chicken is moist and intense. The blue cheese is the first flavour to smack you in the face, though the spiciness comes through as well. The different combination of cheeses create a moistness and soft cheesiness and makes it a really enjoyable pizza. Unfortunately the cheesecake didn’t have it’s seatbelt on and hit the floor, hence the crack in the cheesecake. Pouring the raspberry coulis all over and launching into it, I was pleasantly surprised. The baked New York style cheesecake is a classic and this was so delicious. I loved the creamy but not too rich flavour of the cheesecake and that raspberry coulis helps to balance out the richness. I like the biscuit crumb base. Yum! Very happy. A good pizza offering but needs a little more of a pep in flavour.
I haven’t visited Jamie’s for a few year’s now since it first opened. We had lunch here with clients and I notice they have a Super Lunch offer of 2 courses for $25 or 3 courses for $30 which looked tempting. We started with garlic bread which presented a lovely soft bread filled with a delicious herbed garlic butter and garlic chips. I ordered Gennaro’s Famous Porchetta. The pork belly was very tender, though the crackling was a little tricky to cut through. The pork belly was soft and tasty and went well with the salsa verde and herbed garlic and chilli mixture. However, the apple sauce, while nice, dominated the pork and vegetables, to the point I left the sauce to the side. The meal was okay, not to the standard I had enjoyed on my first visits. The flavour balance is a bit off. I don’t think Jamie Oliver would be happy with the dish.
What a generous serving! There’s plenty of food on offer and lots of variety which appealed to me the most. I’m a real fan of karaage chicken so was glad to see this as an option under the bento box section. This version was different to those I’ve eaten previously with a slightly different batter. It’s light and crunchy and doesn’t go soggy at all. The batter is lovely and encases tender succulent chicken with a rich mayo. Karaage chicken normally is crumbed which I prefer but this was still tasty. I also loved the other elements in the bento box. The fish cake was so delicious, light, soft super tender fish encased in a golden crumb. The tempura prawn was also excellent, a perfect light crunchy batter encasing well cooked prawn. Then there’s the octopus balls (takoyaki) which has soft tender octopus surrounded by a light gooey pancakey mixture with a lovely golden brown outer. These were rich, creamy and very enjoyable, especially with the sweetish BBQ sauce. The miso soup was warm and soothing, the salad certainly helped to take the edge of the rich and deep fried elements and was particularly refreshing. The rice with sesame seeds was lovely and I like the pickled ginger to aid digestion. The sugar snap peas were a bit unusual though, very stringy and chewy apart from the peas inside. Really stuffed, glad I’ve got a bit of a walk back to the office which is much needed. Satisfied.